Paralegal Studies

Suffolk offers two alternative pathways to becoming a nonlawyer legal professional through our Paralegal Studies program.

Paralegals, or now more commonly referred to as nonlawyer legal professionals, are one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. It offers a wide variety of opportunities for both personal and career development in the legal field, ranging from the traditional law office environment to commercial companies and government agencies.

What is a nonlawyer legal professional?

The terms paralegal, legal assistant, and nonlawyer legal professional are interchangeable. In alignment with the Massachusetts chapter of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), our undergraduate law program uses the term nonlawyer legal professional during instruction.

Nonlawyer legal professionals are not licensed to practice law independently but work as valued members of legal teams under the supervision of one or more attorneys. Typical responsibilities include:

  • Drafting legal documents
  • Tracking important deadlines
  • Assisting attorneys in preparing for trial
  • Interviewing clients and witnesses
  • Conducting legal investigations and legal research
  • Organizing and maintaining client files
  • Coordinating litigation proceedings
  • Utilizing computers, technology, and specialized software to perform tasks

Why study paralegal studies and become a nonlawyer legal professional?

California is the only state that requires a nonlawyer legal professional to meet a minimum educational requirement to work. In other states, employers determine the level of education they require to hire a candidate and sometimes select only graduates from well-established programs like ours. By earning a certificate or associate degree in Paralegal Studies from Suffolk, you’ll demonstrate to employers that you have a strong foundation in the law, as well as a mastery of legal writing, research, and other in-demand skills.

Please note that both our Paralegal Studies Certificate and Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies are educational programs, not professional certification programs. There is no national or state certification or licensure required to work as a nonlawyer legal professional, though many states offer voluntary certification programs you can take to further demonstrate your skillset and standout on the job market.

“During my sophomore year, I was able to use what I learned in the Paralegal Studies Certificate program as a paralegal intern for the Department of Labor. Working with them was really fulfilling and showed me that I want to do agency work with the federal government. Although I'm not interested in being a practitioner of law, I think having this expertise and experience with the legal system will be valuable in my career, since I can better understand the legal frameworks related to policy making.”

Isabel Baynum, Class of 2023 Political Science Major, Paralegal Studies Certificate

Program Options

Paralegal Studies Certificate

For students who are not currently undertaking an undergraduate law degree, the best pathway to become a nonlawyer legal professional is to complete our Paralegal Studies Certificate. This is a great option for those who are studying other disciplines but want to go to law school or enter the legal field after graduation.

Please note that if you are a current undergraduate law major, you cannot complete the Paralegal Studies Certificate. This is because all courses needed to complete the certificate are already included in the undergraduate law curriculum, and, as stated above, the Paralegal Studies Certificate is a supplementary educational program, not an official professional certification.

It is strongly advised that students interested in the Paralegal Studies Certificate see an undergraduate law program advisor as early as possible to plan accordingly.

View the Paralegal Studies Certificate curriculum

Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies

Students interested in entering the legal field as a nonlawyer legal professional who do not wish to complete a four-year undergraduate degree can earn a two-year Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies degree.

View the Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies curriculum

Questions? Get in touch!

Rachael Cobb

Rachael Cobb

Associate Professor & Department Chair of Political Science & Legal Studies

Email [email protected]

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